For centuries, the people of the Tarbes region in Southwest France have grown and harvested a unique bean: the haricot Tarbais.
These white heirloom beans have a sweet, milky flesh and a thin skin. Even when they are slow cooked, most will remain whole, though the perfect number will burst to create a creamy texture in your dish. These distinctive characteristics make them the ideal choice (we would say the only choice) for cassoulet.
But they are suitable for any of your favorite recipes that call for dried white beans, from chili to braised greens.
Just the facts
- Heirloom bean imported from the Tarbais region of France
- Dried on the stalk and hand harvested
- Red Label certification and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) assure quality and authenticity
- Product of France
- For best taste, use before expiration date on package
Carrying on the tradition of many generations, these large white beans are planted alongside corn. The sturdy stalks serve as bean poles for the long vines, which wrap around them. Both crops are from the New World, but when grown in this particular climate in Southwest France, the beans developed distinctive features and flavor.
At the foot of the Pyrénées the cultivation of the Tarbais bean is part of the rhythm of life; they are sowed in May, allowed to flourish through the summer months, and are hand harvested in September after drying naturally on the vine.
Because of the painstaking nature of this type of agriculture, the production of these unique beans declined over the last century as more industrialized methods were introduced and displaced the old fashioned style of farming. But in the 1980s a group of concerned preservationists realized that this local bean should be saved from certain extinction. Because of their effort, the Tarbais bean was granted the "Label Rouge" in 1997, and IGP (Indication of Protected Geographical Origin) status in 2000. Only members of a small cooperative in Tarbais are allowed to use the name, and production is carefully regulated.